Hi, Jim Daly here. Today's culture deeply needs help, but in times like these, the light of Christ can shine even brighter.
So be encouraged to share his light in this broken world. Listen to the Refocus with Jim Daly Podcast. Without time limitations, I'll have deep, heartfelt discussions with fascinating guests who will encourage you to share God's grace, truth, and love. Check out the podcast at RefocusWithJimDaly.com or wherever you get your podcasts. The truth is there's hope for your marriage, and you both want the same things, and God wants the same things for you. He's on your side.
So just remember who the real enemy is, and there is hope. Well, Matt and Lisa Jacobson join us today on Focus on the Family, talking about some of the ways that you can strengthen the love and the joy in your relationship with your spouse. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller.
Well, John, we create a lot of marriage content here at Focus on the Family, primarily because that's one of our major areas, is marriage and parenting and advocacy for kids and then engaging the culture, in addition to evangelism and helping people come to know the Lord. So marriage is one of those prominent things that we try to help people do better, including ourselves. Yeah, I always benefit from these conversations. But, you know, we're listening. This is a two-way dialogue.
I like the way Dr. Dobson always talked about that. You know, we want to hear from you. Even if you just want to tell us something, that's important to us because we collect that information, and it helps shape future programs and content that we create. So if something strikes you or you have an idea, just let us know.
John will give those details later. But we do listen. Some of the top questions we've received are about navigating busy schedules.
That's up there. Certainly financial issues, often intimacy issues, communication and conflict, and then a lack of respect or appreciation in that context of marriage. And these are important topics, right? And although they often present themselves in small moments every day, it's that drip, drip, drip effect. And over time, that can become water torture in a marriage, if I could say it that way. Proverbs 2.17 says, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love.
I really like that. Having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. It's vital for us as Christians, as the church, but certainly as married couples to demonstrate that unity. And we're going to talk about that today. And Matt and Lisa Jacobson have been here before. Lisa is an author, a speaker, and founder and host of club31women.com, an online community of Christian women authors. And Matt is a teaching elder and pastor at Klein Falls Bible Fellowship and the founder of faithfulman.com, which is a social media community focusing on family teaching. Together, Matt and Lisa have written two books. They go hand in hand.
One is called Loving Your Husband Well, and the other is Loving Your Wife Well. And you can find details about those books in the show notes. Lisa and Matt, welcome back to Focus. Good to have you. It's great to be back again. Thanks so much. It's so fun.
Let's get right to it. You had an amazing love story. A lengthy engagement.
I really love this. You guys kind of knew right away where you're going to describe how love became real to you as you went along. Well, I suppose most people don't know that we decided to get married in about six days. Well, God created the universe in six days. Well, that was it. We wanted to be biblical about the whole thing, so.
Hadn't thought about it that way. Six days. Yeah, six days is fast. We met on a Friday night, and I knew that was the man I was going to marry.
I can't explain that. I just knew in my heart, and I thought, I just remember thinking, oh, I'm really looking forward to getting to know him, because I knew that was who I was going to marry. It took him longer, though it took him a few more days before he figured out. Ten days. Three days.
Well, we're slow, you know. Three days. It took him three days.
Three days. Yeah. And by six days, we were talking marriage.
Wow. So it was a, and it just seemed very natural at the time, because you know what this means, don't you? And I go, yeah, we're going to get married. He goes, yep. So how did that, yeah, there is a process to this.
That's a pretty, you're going from square one to twenty-five. You know what there is, I don't know if we have time for the whole story, but my assistant, I used to work in publishing, and my assistant came to me one day and said, would you be willing to date my friend? Here's her picture. And I said, oh, absolutely.
Absolutely, let's do it. And so she called, she was living in Southern California at the time. And when she said take your friend, what did she mean by that? Oh, date. Did I say take?
Yeah. Date. Would you be willing to date my friend? Oh, I heard take, but that's good. Date is far better. Take her. Yeah, just take her off my hands.
My friend, she's driving me nuts. Yeah, it wasn't until after we were married that you said, take me. No, wait.
Oh, wait, this is a family show. But anyway, so I said sure. And so she walked into my office in about a week after that, and all this happened behind the scenes, I didn't know that she had called Lisa.
Turns out Lisa was coming up to visit and had some other things too, I think involved in a wedding. And so I had said, sure. She knocks on my door, my assistant knocks on my door, and she said, you know that girl I was telling you about? I said, yeah. She said, well, she's standing right outside your door, and I was thinking you could take her to lunch. Wow. I think this woman was the matchmaker. And I said, that's not going to happen.
Oh, wow. This was our first meeting. She said, what? I said, I'm not going to be, what?
She's here now? I said, sorry, you're taking her to lunch, not me. So that, she said, well, would you at least come out and meet her? So I said, sure, I'll come out. And I was really, I was really polite.
With that kind of attitude? He was so rude. I was really polite. He was so rude. You were rude. Wow.
And you knew right then he's the man you want to marry. No. That's what I said. There's a little back story here. Yeah. Okay.
It took a little bit of time. So no, I said if he was the last man on earth, I wouldn't go out with this guy. So, but I'm going to- I came out and shook your hand. Come on. Oh, he was, and he points, oh, I'm kind of busy right now, and stood me up right there in the lobby. It was awful.
It really was awful. However- But when I was walking away, I said to myself, you know, I think I might have done that too fast. Yeah, you did. I did say that. I think I might have done that too fast. So. You said that out loud?
To myself, no. See, that would have been all the difference. Lisa knew that. That's right. Wow. Actually, a whole year went by.
Eight months. Okay, good. So that was the kickoff to this wonderful situation.
Exactly. And then you met again. And in that time, though, I just feel like- She went out and bought a wedding dress. But what I felt like got impressed upon me, and this is for the singles or people that are, you know, I was a little bit older.
I was almost 27. I really was impressed upon me that I had written my love story in my mind. And God just showed me, said, you need to let me write your love story. And you need to have an open hand. And that was really a very turning point for me to realize, you know what, I need to be just open to what God has. You know, Lisa, you're tapping on something that's so important. It's all those expectations we create about everything.
Yes. And, man, I have just found in life when having low expectations, I'm not talking about certain things like job performance and things like that and, you know, things where performance standards need to be there. But just as your life unfolds, those expectations can be crippling if you think it's got to go a certain way.
And the Lord's saying, well, it's not going to go that way. And really, in so many ways, it continues on even through your marriage because, you know, if you write the script for how this is going to work, you'll be disappointed probably at some point or another, maybe often. And being able to say, you know what, I'm going to be open to what God is going to write for us. Well, here's a great example of that, in my opinion. You have it in the two books, the companion books. But on your side, Lisa, in your book, you talked about the importance of cultivating your own faith and not owning the faith of your spouse.
That is big. Now, some people may not even see it, that they're pushing their husband or pushing their wife because they want to see a little more fruit. Let's get out there and do some spiritual exercises because I'm not seeing the fruit I need to see in you today. So describe that calmness that comes when you concentrate on your own heart and really don't own the faith of your spouse. Well, I think just realizing that there's so much that I can do in my walk that I don't need to spend my time, my energy worrying about his. You can pray about it.
You can be an example and an encourager. But there's really, it's pointless really to try to live out faith for your spouse, whichever way it goes. Holiness only relates to one person. You can't be holy for somebody else and your holiness is not predicated on the behavior of another person. God calls you to be holy in the circumstances. This is really so important because it does bring calmness to your life when you don't own somebody else's activities and decisions. It can be hard in marriage because those impact you the way that they do.
But symptomatically, if I were to try to take an assessment, well, am I doing that to my spouse? What are some of the things that give the indication that you're owning the other person's faith journey? Well, when you're pursuing the Lord and you take your eyes off of that pursuit and you start turning your attention to the things that the Bible told the other person to do, right? God's letter, God's mail is to the other person.
So this relates a lot to what you find in Ephesians chapter 5. We're very careful to scrutinize what God tells the other spouse to do, right? As opposed to focusing on what God tells us to do. And that's really what it boils down to is a person seeing the way another person is and rather than praying and rather than having a heart of love and engaging with them on the level that I'm really focusing on myself and what God wants to do in me.
And if you don't do that and you're just trying to get the other person to change their behavior, then that's the mistake. It's trying to get the other person to live a way that you think that they are supposed to rather than focusing on how God's called you to live. You know, and so often in this life, what the Lord is doing is sometimes 180 degrees from what we are doing as a human being, right?
I think Job thought that. Yeah. So, I mean, in that context, what's interesting, we think we're doing the right thing or we're going to extract the right behavior by putting this pressure on. And in reality, we may be creating a detour for God working in our spouse's heart in the direction.
And when you back up and back off, oftentimes you begin to see the very fruit that you were hoping to see. Absolutely. The Holy Spirit is actually far better at His job than you are at His job. You know? Isn't that the truth? And so, yeah, if we just back off sometimes and let God work through our own commitment and walk with God. If we walk in holy, it's really hard to have an argument with a humble person. Yeah.
No kidding. You know? So, if we really are focusing on how God's called us to walk in holiness, that has a tremendous impact on our spouse. Well, we could spend the whole time just on that topic. Matt, you also, in your companion book, you talk about husbands needing to understand that love requires sacrifice. I mean, this is another big topic.
These are like bombs. You could spend an hour or two talking about it. But what point are you trying to make there? Well, there's certainly an aspect of marriage that is the romantic love era side of marriage. And there's a whole book in the Bible that talks a lot about that.
And so, that's absolutely an aspect of it. But we're also called to love. The Bible says, Beloved, love one another. Everyone that loveth is born of God and knows God. And he that loves not does not know God, for God is love. We tend to apply those kinds of scriptures to the other people in the church lobby.
You know? But the most important person in life that you will ever have to apply that to is the person that God gave you to be one with. So, you look at Beloved, let us love one another.
You look at that love, and that is that agape love, that self-sacrificing, self-denying love that comes without an expectation of return. And so, when we talk about God calling us to sacrifice for our spouse, we're talking about God's call to me as a man, as a husband, to love my wife the way God calls me to love other people. So, when we spend time in the Word, our mind begins to change and orient to the things that God wants of me in my marriage. And we stop thinking about our marriage as that which can give me the things that I want, and rather, what God has called me to do and how God has called me to walk and love and interact with this person.
Yeah. Lisa, you had a friend that had to choose to be thankful for her husband during a work trip. Now, many wives are probably going, oh, I had that challenge too.
I mean, work trips can be a real downer for marriage because one of the spouses is leaving town, probably frequently, and it begins to become a grind for the marriage. Yeah, I was so glad to share that story because she's a dear friend, and she had really struggled with having just negative cycle of thinking with her husband. And she would just start thinking of all the things he wasn't doing and how he wasn't loving her. And we've been talking a lot about this together. And so she said, I went on this trip and first night, disappointment, he ended up staying in a different spot, and she was with the kids. And she said, and then I just had this idea, I'm going to sit down, I'm going to make myself write things I'm thankful for. And she said the first few kind of came a little slowly. But as she got going, she realized, you know, I'm thankful he does a good job providing for us.
I'm thankful that he plays with the kids when he gets a chance. And she said it was amazing. And she went to sleep that night with actually joyful thoughts rather than crying herself to sleep, which had been her pattern.
You know, it almost sounds too simple that you can actually think your way to a better marriage. I know it's but it is concentrating on the right things and not the wrong things. You know, John 10 10 says the thief, the enemy, that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. And that God himself, Jesus is saying, I come that you might have life and life more abundantly. But that first part, it's not it can be physical death.
It can be a whole host of things. I think evil expresses itself that way. I personally I think abortion is that that the enemy is coming to steal, kill and destroy. But that's true in a marriage to to kill a marriage. And in fact, someone shared with me that, you know, marriage is the representation of God's image on this earth, that he created man and woman to be his image on this earth and that the two become one flesh, and that every marriage that walks this earth is a stench in the nostrils of Satan.
And that's why he attacks it every day. So in that context, Matt, why is that contentment and respect so vital to cultivate a loving biblical marriage? Well, I think you touched on it in terms of this business of being one, spending time thinking, what does that really mean? And at the core of that oneness is the concept of fellowship. And that's a word that we kind of throw around, you know, a little bit in Christian circles. Well, fellowship, we're having fellowship, we're having donuts and coffee after church. That word fellowship is a word that means the participatory interweaving of our lives together.
That is a an image of peace and unity and then commonality of purpose. And so yeah, Satan hates all of that. And you can't find contentment if you don't discipline your mind and your heart to think in terms that God has spoken relative to your marriage. There is a terrible theology that is based on a very wrong understanding of one single verse in Scripture, and that's at the end of Ephesians 5, and it says, well, the man needs to love his wife and see that she respect her husband. But if you actually look at that word, it's not the word for respect. So the Bible does not teach that men are to be respected by their wives, but they don't really have to respect their wives. This is not a biblical understanding, it is not a biblical teaching. I don't want to go into the details of it because it's a really interesting topic relative to that word, but it doesn't mean respect.
It's a mistranslation. A man is absolutely, from a biblical perspective, supposed to respect his wife, and the man who is not respecting his wife is in the process of destroying his marriage. Men and women are to respect each other. Husbands are to respect their wives, their wives are to respect their husbands.
Absolutely. But your wife will never be content in your marriage if you don't respect her, if you don't treat her as a person. And all of the teaching of Scripture speaks to this issue of how we're supposed to interact with another person. Those one another verses, Beloved, let us love one another, be kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving one another. If we do not walk in respect with each other, then we are in the process of destroying our marriage. So it's a big topic, but men, absolutely, you've got to respect your wife.
The Bible doesn't teach that she has to respect you, but you don't have to respect her. Lisa, in the book, both of you are very refreshingly open about your situation as you were battling through better understanding marriage and what it does, and God's intention for marriage. You mentioned the first fight you and Matt ever had. Sorry to put this out there, but you wrote about it.
What happened and how did you learn the importance of trust through that disagreement? Yeah, it was our first, I would say first big argument was I came home to the apartment and there was some plane tickets to California on the counter. That's not a problem, is it? And Matt said, oh, I forgot to tell you, I'm going down to California for a friend's graduation. So it wasn't plane tickets, it was plane ticket.
Yes, plane ticket. Yeah, I should say that for one. And I realize this now, but it actually triggered me.
It really triggered. And I just, he and Matt had never seen this side of me. I just said, no, you're not going.
This is not happening. He said, oh, oh, yes, I am. I just remember. So I think the reason for my reaction was just this triggering of fear of being left. And, you know, again, you don't know at the time because you're just all you know is you just can't see straight.
And so we went back and forth and there was we were not making any progress in this conversation. And then he went into the bedroom and disappeared for a long time. I thought, oh, he's packing a suitcase.
He's leaving. I just had quite an imagination, apparently. But he was in there for so long and I couldn't stand any longer. So I opened the door real quietly to peek in and see what he was doing. And he was on his knees by the bed and just praying about it.
And I had never seen such a thing. I had never heard of this idea of you get an argument and you can take it before the Lord. Like it just, this was mind blowing to me, even though I've been a Christian for many years. And I just, it was so diffusing because I just went and kneeled next to him. And I thought, okay, whatever, however this argument is going to end, it almost didn't matter because we were bringing it before the Lord. And the nice thing about it is our marriage has been perfect ever since.
That's what's so awesome. Let me ask you, you mentioned in your companion book the mental battles, emotional battles that we fight within our marriages, et cetera. Pretty tangible, you know that, you know, when something triggers you.
It was great that you had that awareness, actually, Lisa, that you felt that and went, wow, where's that coming from? Because that's an important question to ask ourselves. But it's harder sometimes to see the spiritual battle of what's going on, what the enemy's doing, what our own flesh is doing to rip your marriage apart.
Speak to the recognition of those elements within marriage that are a little more unseen. Well, absolutely. Well, I think of it in these terms, you know, if you see the soldier and let's say he's in Ukraine. Well, Ukraine's not a great place for a suntan. Let's rehabilitate back to Iraq, right? That's a great place for a suntan.
Okay. But it's a war zone. So if the soldier's taken off his pack and taken the clip out of his rifle and he is just relaxing, slathering on some tan lotion, you're going, that's a fool, okay? And he's not going to last too long. Well, God has told us in his word that the context of our existence is being surrounded by spiritual enemies. This is the message that we find in Ephesians. We're surrounded by spiritual enemies. And so if that's true, then what should we do?
We don't have to ask. We have to read the word. That's why I like to say, are you going to be a biblical Christian?
Then read the word. What does it say? In the space of three verses in Ephesians 6 there, it says, get dressed. Get dressed?
Yes. It says, put on the full armor of God. Get dressed. Now, that's interesting because I think we want God to dress us.
One guy said to me, I was just praying, Lord, help me be strong. And the Lord's going, have you put your armor on yet? Right. Because we are in a spiritual battle. That is the context for the Christian's life. Well, you're saying it requires preparation. It requires being purposeful and preparing.
And we just, it's so easy because of all the noise in life just to show up on game day and, okay, we're going into another day. And we haven't been in the word. We haven't listened to what the Lord said.
We haven't prayed. We haven't yielded our heart to the Lord. And yet the Bible says, the context of your existence is spiritual warfare. And God says, get dressed. Put on the armor. And I think the most important piece of that armor is the sword, right? What's the sword? The Bible says, the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. And that's what Jesus knew when he was tempted. He didn't take Satan on without the sword. He said, it is written. When Satan tempted him, remember that time? He said, it is written, it is written, it is written. He took the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, and he stuck it in the guts of Satan's arguments and, you know, pulled it from side to side. So, I'm a little graphic there. But that's the thing about our sword.
We have to know how to use it. And God says, get dressed, pick up your sword, get into the word, read it. You are in a spiritual battle, so recognize that as the context of your existence. I like that. And before we run out of time, I did want to, we'll end on a little higher note. Moving from that spiritual battle to laughter in marriage and the importance of laughter in marriage.
I understand that. Jean and I enjoy laughing. It is part of our relationship. And, you know, it's not always funny. Let me, there are times when we're not laughing, but laughter is a good thing. And it does kind of lighten the load. So speak to the importance of a sense of humor in marriage.
You know, it's true. It's kind of almost like a secret sauce, you know, to be able to laugh in your marriage. And there are times where we're going through heavy things or difficult things. And, but we will almost always end the night laughing. And we even will put aside an argument or a sorrow and just go ahead and say something funny to each other. Well, usually you're saying something funny to me, but, or wrestling or just... Sometimes it's hard for you to get into bed without some trauma just before that.
It's always got some trap set for me. It's just, it's really ridiculous. And I've shared this with all my friends. It is kind of goofy. I mean, we are goofy. I love pillows on our bed. I have all these pillows just arranged just so, and he can't stand the pillows, but he'll get into bed.
And then I'm always the last one to get into bed because I've always got this to do and that to do. Oh, I got to remember that. Where does he chuck these pillows?
At me. It's like one of those, those games at the fair, you know, and he just all the way across. Not from the same place at the same time all the time. I mean, I mix it up a little bit.
Wow. You must have a lot of pillows on your bed. And it makes me laugh every time.
It's so, it's, but those kinds of things where we actually do, we do lighten up and we do have fun together and we remind ourselves. Hey, there's, let's... Man, I think you need to hide the pillows. That'd be my secret. Put them in the garage. That's a good idea.
Hide them up in the rafters somewhere. And then get back to us and let us know how that works. Let me, let me at the very end here, cause we're out of time, but let's come back next time and keep the discussion going.
We'll cover more and I'll mention that in a minute. But for that couple that feels like they've lost touch with each other, I mean, they're listening to this or maybe one of the spouses is listening going, wow, okay, we're in that desperate place. What, what is something they can begin to think about to reignite that relationship?
Well, here's the thing. If you were to talk to them individually and say, what is it that you're interested for your marriage? And turn to the other spouse and say, what do you want in your marriage? They're going to say the same things.
They want a marriage that's close, loving, kind, enjoyable, intimate. Just remember your spouse is not your enemy. Satan is at work. He's the enemy.
He's the destroyer. He's the one that wants to prevent you from the things that you both want. The fact is, is that you're standing on this little canyon wall and you're, you look down and it's the abyss.
It goes forever, but you're really just about a foot apart and you could step right across that. The truth is there's hope for your marriage and you both want the same things and God wants the same things for you. He's on your side. So just remember who the real enemy is and there is hope. Well, thanks for being with us and we'll come back next time and we'll keep the discussion going. Can we do it? Absolutely. Okay, good.
Let's do that. And I hope you hear the heart that we have for you in your marriage. Don't suffer in a bad marriage. God doesn't want you to be in that place of suffering.
He doesn't want you to leave the marriage, but he wants you to have a good marriage. And you both have to work on that together. I think that's the point of today's program. And these two companion books, what a great way to get started. Devotional books, loving your wife well, loving your husband well. Matt and Lisa poured their thought, their experience, their theological understandings into that.
You've heard a part of that today. Make a donation to Focus for any amount and we'll send these two as our way of saying thank you. Yeah, donate generously as you can, either a monthly pledge or a one-time gift of any amount and we'll send those books to you. Online, we also have our free marriage assessment, which about a million people have taken.
It'll require maybe five or ten minutes of your time. Do that together as a couple. And then you've got some talking points to get on the same page and on the journey together. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, or we've got details in the show notes. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family.
I'm John Fuller inviting you back. We'll continue the conversation with the Jacobsons and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. If the fights with your spouse have become unbearable, if you feel like you can't take it anymore, there's still hope. Hope restored marriage intensives have helped thousands of couples like yours. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face them together. Call us at 1-866-875-2915. We'll talk with you, pray with you and help you find out which program will work best. That's 1-866-875-2915.
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